The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

processing (threshing) grains

SheGar's picture
SheGar

processing (threshing) grains

I am unsure if this is the right place but "geeky" the topic is for a bread baking forum.

Has anybody found a good way of threshing small amounts of grain? I have sucessfully grown, threshed, winnowed, milled and baked my own wheat but it sure a (massive amount of) labour of love kind of thing. I had 800g cleaned wheat so far and it took me hours.

I googled up and down and watched endless videos on youtube but I haven't found a good way yet. The most reasonable idea was using a grass trimmer in a bucket. It went ok, not great. Still a lot of manual breaking up the grain, fishing out little bits of trimmer string and cleaning grains.

Any ideas? Recommendations?

I do not plan on a ton of grains and mostly specialty grains that I can't buy whole or as flours. I am in the grain growing Prairies of Canada and still find it a total waste land of (interesting) grains for human consumption.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Just thinking out loud..., as I've never done it, but trying to imagine an inexpensive solution.

Studded soft-plastic dryer balls along with the wheat heads in a closed 3 gallon to 5 gallon bucket, shaken up, rolled around, whatever.

https://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-Dryer-Balls-Friendly-Alternative/dp/B007Y2TBI4?tag=froglallabout-20

I've used plastic dryer balls in the clothes-dryer before, and at least the ones I used did not have fabric-softening chemicals in them. It was just mechanical action.

I'm thinking that the studs or "fingers" on the balls, knocking around inside the bucket, would be conducive to doing what's needed to get the berries loose.

SheGar's picture
SheGar

I am not sure if it would be going hard enough at the grain. They don't come out that easily. Something to think about though... Thanks.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

One of the goals of seed companies in their hybridizing projects was to create strains of wheat that would thresh easily without damaging the berries.  That's one reason the heirloom or ancient grains are so expensive (along with lower yield per acre, and not having the economy of large scale) is that they were/are relatively harder to process.

That is so cool that you grow and process your own grain. Attagirl!

SheGar's picture
SheGar

I do pick grains that are easy to thresh for sure. It's hard enough as it is lol.

It's really not something I would do for all baking but it's extremely exciting and satisfying to know that all everything in a loaf is homemade, apart from salt which is a tiny amount considering the whole dough.
I want to focus on very small quantities of grains that I can't buy. Until we are a force enough and create demand enough for farmers to grow it. I agree with your statement though on economics. However, premium products can be economical we just need to make it trendy enough!

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

www.centralmilling.com in Utah grows/buys, mills and sells a lot of ancient/specialty grains.  I drool over their products/store page.

Now you just need to get 100 bakers in your area to form a buying club, where everyone buys a 50 pound bag (flour or berries) each, so you can get a truckload delivered at freight rates.

Years ago, I was part of a group order of over 4,000 pounds from www.wheatmontana.com.  The shipping was very reasonable, per pound, compared to individual packages via UPS/etc.  We all just went to the coordinator's house to pick it up.  The group coordinator was the customer as far as Wheat Montana was concerned, did the bookkeeping, took the money, placed the order, etc.

I bet Central Milling would sell rye, spelt, durum, Kamut, emmer, einkorn, hard red spring, whatever, etc., the same way.  They'd love a 4,000 pound order, and ship it by truck-freight.   You just need 100 or so friends. ;-)

SheGar's picture
SheGar

I am not in the US.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I know.  But US  companies can sell across the border, no?  Are Canadians not allowed to import US wheat?

I realize there are some restrictions on cross-border ag products. Does that inlcude wheat/flour?

SheGar's picture
SheGar

I believe flour has a lot of tariff to protect the Canadian market. And then your dollar (or should I say our weak dollar?) is killing everything else.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Daybreak Mills in Saskatchewan. That’s where I buy my grains from and they have a nice selection. Shipping isn’t cheap though (I am in Ontario) so I try to buy when they have their 20% off sales. 

SheGar's picture
SheGar

I buy from them as well! I love them! They don't have all the grains I want though!  How do you find out about their 20% sales?

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

And I check the site regularly around holiday times. I ordered enough in early December to last me a year. I think it was part of their early Xmas sale or it might have been cyber Monday. 

One trick to ensure you don’t get bugs is to freeze the grain. I always order in the winter so I can put the grain in a shed and let it freeze for a week or two. Then I keep it in 5 gallon food safe pails with gamma lids. Touch wood, I haven’t found any critters in my grain by doing this. 

SheGar's picture
SheGar

but haven't received an email for a while. I'll sign up again. Thanks for that!

I always freeze the grains for a couple of weeks at least. I use the pails as well and cambro containers. I haven't had issues either. Knock on wood!

I wish there were more places close by since I live between grain fields but so far no luck. SK and BC (fieldstone organics) are where I get my grains from). Fieldstone's shipping is insane but I had a friend drive by and she loaded the trunk for me on the way home.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Are you looking for that you can’t get at Daybreak Mills?

SheGar's picture
SheGar

Emmer and Triticale

SheGar's picture
SheGar

That's the one I baked so far. Hard spring wheat from a bulk bin (seeded, grown, harvested, threshed, winnowed, milled, baked). Only the salt was store bought. Sifted out about 10% and rolled the dough in the 10% before cold retard.

Beth's picture
Beth

I could be wrong, but I expect that tumbling the grain with something stout enough to thresh it would crack the grain. The way to break up a single head in the field is to mash/rub it in your hands. The way a combine does it is putting it through a moving grooved bar. So I would suggest trying something that would rub the grain. Rigging up a way to rub it in a coarse cloth (burlap?) bag might be efficient at your scale. Just scheming here, haven't actually tried this. Maybe take a large bag, staple a square of plywood that is 2/3 the size of one side of the bag to the bag, staple a length of 2x4 to the other side, put the grain in, put the plywood on the ground, and work the 2x4 across the plywood? Or maybe you would need to rig up something with more texture than just the burlap. 

For cleaning, not knowing how close your nearest grain elevator is, could you make a deal with them to just use their sample cleaning machine for so many dollars for 15 minutes at the tail end of harvest, before they clean it up and put it away for the year?

A completely different approach - some antique tractor clubs have an annual demonstration day, including threshing machines. If you have such an group/event in your area, you might be able to participate with your crop.

SheGar's picture
SheGar

Grains are surprisingly sturdy. Even the grass trimmer didn't damage kernels.

I haven't thought about grain elevators or demos. Something to investigate. Thanks.

Justanoldguy's picture
Justanoldguy

A few years ago there were several foot or small motor powered threshers on  the market designed for homesteaders and others off the grid. I don't know if they are still being made. If not there's always the chance you might find a used one. If there are any businesses in your area that cater to preppers, off the grid folks or homesteaders you might make inquiries.